CLASS 4A STATE FOOTBALL 1ST ROUND MATCHUP
NO. 12 AURORA CENTRAL (8-2) AT NO. 5 DURANGO (9-1)
Noon, Nov. 14 at Durango H.S.
BREAKDOWN: Aurora Central of the Mountain League and Durango of the Pikes Peak League meet on the field for the first time in at least a decade and possibly ever given the roughly 350 miles between the schools…In his first season, coach Travis Peeples has the Trojans in the playoffs for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century, as the school’s last postseason appearance is believed to be 1991…Coach David Vogt’s Demons return to the playoffs after just a year absence and the program is making its fifth trip in the past seven seasons, however Durango has lost all four previous trips over that span (2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013)…AURORA CENTRAL: The Trojans finished the reason season 8-2 after a crucial 20-8 victory over Standley Lake in their regular season finale on Nov. 5, winning despite the absence of Peeples, who served a one-game suspension for two personal fouls picked up by his assistant coaches in a loss to Denver South the previous week. Senior RB Francisco Aranda scored two touchdowns and senior RB Mike Retland — who returned from injury — scored another, the go-ahead points in the fourth quarter for Aurora Central…Defensively, Aurora Central bounced back from two difficult outings against Wheat Ridge and Denver South, who combined for 79 points against the Trojans, though many came directly or were set up by turnovers. DC Jamarr Kerney’s Trojans have held six of their 10 opponents in single digits in points. Senior DT Kirk Hines and LB Aranda lead the team with 68 tackles, with senior DLs Christopher Porter and Eviahn Scott just behind them. Porter has been a terror to opposing quarterbacks, who he’s sacked a team-high 7.0 times, while Scott and senior DL RJ Davis have accounted for 6.0 apiece. In the defensive backfield, DBs Korvelle Wilburn, a senior, and junior Jouan Kennedy each have two interceptions, while senior DB Dominick Jackson is around the ball quite often when it is in the air…On offense, Aurora Central has been a smash mouth type of football team and managed to pile up a whopping 3,077 yards on the ground, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry. More impressively, the Trojans have seven players who have rushed for 100 or more yards on the season, with Aranda at the top of the heap with 922 yards and six touchdowns. Senior RB Taevon Jordan leads the team with eight rushing touchdowns to go with 677 yards, while junior RB De’Oveya Johnson has 458 yards and three scores, Kennedy 281 yards and a touchdown and Retland 228 yards and two TDs despite playing only half of Aurora Central’s games. Junior QB Jalil Grimes has rushed for six scores and has throw for seven in addition to 492 yards through the air. Junior WR Terrell Gissendanner Jr. is the team’s leading receiver with 214 yards and seven TDs, while freshman ATH Terell Ratcliff has 133 yards receiving and a score. On special teams, Ratcliff and Jackson give the Trojans a dangerous tandem of kick returns, with both taking at least one kick back for a touchdown…DURANGO: The Demons come into the playoffs following back-to-back 48-6 victories over Air Academy and Rampart, as they bounced back from their only loss of the season, a 41-3 demolition at the hands of top-ranked and undefeated Pine Creek…Durango has been prolific on offense this season, as it has piled up 378 points per game — an average of 37.8 per contest — and scored 48 or more in a game five times. Senior QB Terrence Trujillo has accounted for a whole lot of those points, as he has thrown for 24 touchdowns (in addition to 1,597 yards) and also rushed for six touchdowns (along with 681 yards rushing). Senior WR Lucas Baken is Trujillo’s favorite target, as the two have connected 41 times for 730 yards and 14 touchdowns, while senior WR Kyle Duran has 274 yards receiving and three touchdowns, the same amount as senior RB Lawrence Mayberry to go with 205 yards. Two other Demons have more than 143 yards receiving as well. Mayberry leads a rushing attack that has just short of 2,500 yards to its credit with 1,342 — including nine games of 100-plus yards — and 13 rushing scores…Defensively, Durango has been strong, although three opponents (Pine Creek, Montrose and Palmer Ridge) each tallied 35 or more points. Senior LB Diego Arias is far an away the team leader in tackles, followed by sophomore LBs Max Hyson and Manasseh Brockus, while Hyson is also the top pass rusher for the Demons with 3.5 sacks, 0.5 ahead of Mayberry for the team lead. Senior DB James Brennan has four interceptions to lead a defense that has picked off 15 passes, with Mayberry and sophomore FS Gavin Mestas at three apiece…Senior PK Nick Jernigan is a potential weapon on special teams, as he’s connected on all six of his field goal attempts, with a long of 29 yards…WINNER: The Aurora Central-Durango winner advances to the second round to play No. 13 Loveland, which upset No. 4 Vista Ridge 30-14 on Nov. 13. Neither Aurora Central nor Durango has faced Loveland this season. Based on CHSAA coin tosses, Aurora Central would be the home team against Loveland in the second round with a victory, while a Durango win would send the Demons to Loveland.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel